Gymnastics Beat: Utes grab top spot in national poll
First they upset UCLA, then they take over the No. 1 spot in the national gymnastics poll.
The University of Utah gymnasts couldn't hope for a better start to the 2005 season, but they're not going to get too heady about it either.
"It doesn't mean that much right now," Utah senior Annabeth Eberle said of Monday's poll in which the Utes were No. 1 and UCLA was second. "We're excited, but we're not going overboard. We judge our meets more on how we feel than what we scored. We made a couple of mistakes Friday, but overall, we did great."
For the first two weeks, the poll is based on highest scores, which is why Utah's 197.675-197.3 win over UCLA vaulted the Utes from fifth in the preseason poll to first.
Utah was ranked No. 1 last year as well after beating the Bruins in the season opener.
"We appreciate it and it's great to talk about any time you have a No. 1 ranking," Utah coach Greg Marsden said. "But it's still very early in the season."
Seeing the Utes at the top isn't that much of a surprise, considering their score was the ninth-highest total in school history.
However, the rest of the poll brought up some bizarre results, mainly because of low scoring at the Super Six Challenge in Gainesville, Fla., where Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Arizona, Penn State and Iowa competed.
That meet apparently was judged more strictly than any other held this weekend, and top teams plummeted.
For instance, Georgia, ranked No. 2 in the preseason poll, won the meet with a 194.85, but fell to No. 10 based on the low scoring. Its final score was the lowest since its 1999 season opener, and the drop in the rankings marks just the seventh time since 1997 that the Bulldogs have been out of the top five.
Eberle and Ashley Postell tied for No. 1 in the all-around based on their 39.625 scores from Friday, and Rachel Tidd is tied for first on the vault with UCLA's Kristen Maloney after both scored 9.95.
BYU places second
BYU's gymnastics team took second in Friday's Cancun Gymnastics Classic, won by Oklahoma (195.9). The Cougars finished with a score of 194.675. That was high enough for a No. 11 national ranking, but the school apparently failed to report the score into the ranking system. Instead, the Cougars, ranked No. 18 in the preseason, are out of the top 25 for at least a week.
BYU senior Jaime Mabray was second in the all-around with a 39.150 and freshman Dayna Smart tied for first on the balance beam with a 9.9.
On vault, Marie-Helene Claveau placed second (9.850). On bars, Lisa Willis placed second (9.850).
Attendance for Friday's meet against
UCLA, 10,064, is the highest home attendance for any Utah event other than football this season. The season high for men's basketball so far was 10,057 for a Dec. 28 game against Weber State. The men's basketball team is averaging 9,511 fans.
Big opener, big competition
Utah State coach Ray Corn believes his team is ready for its opener against Utah on Friday, but is a little anxious to see how the freshmen do against the nation's top team.
"Are they going to be relaxed, or are they going to be unsettled?" he said. "If they're unsettled, we could be in for a long night."
Utah at Utah State, Friday, 6:45 p.m.
Southern Utah at BYU, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Team Name Team High 1 Utah 197.675 2 UCLA 197.300 3t Oklahoma 195.900 3t Michigan 195.900 5 Arizona State 195.700 6 Michigan State 195.475 7 Auburn 195.325 8 Oregon State 195.200 9 Iowa State 194.925 10 Georgia 194.850 11 Washington 194.625 12 Florida 194.450 13 Arkansas 194.250 14 Nebraska 194.200 15 Maryland 193.975 16t Alabama 193.875 16t Denver 193.875 18 Illinois 193.825 19 Minnesota 193.800 20 LSU 193.725 21 Arizona 193.425 22 Cal State-Fullerton 193.225 23 Missouri 193.050 24 Central Michigan 192.350 25 Sacramento State 192.275